Month : December 2016

home for the holidays (part 4)

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I’m so grateful we got a headstart on the decorations this year, got our baking done a couple weeks ago, and thanks to good old Amazon Prime, our gifts arrived in plenty of time to wrap, leaving the last couple nights to soak up the anticipation of the holiday.

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The gifts moved to their rightful place under the tree, and the advent calendar hung empty.

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Our wreath was filled with family and friends’ faces.

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Crew was enjoying playing with a couple new (early) gifts from friends.

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I loved just walking around the house the last couple days, taking note of all the little Crew infusions that make up Christmas for us this year.

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Per our tradition, a freshly-bathed Crew came down to admire the tree one final time in his jammies, and I grabbed a couple (more mobile this year!) shots.

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Off to bed he went, so Santa could come…

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I won’t rub it in, but one of our best gifts is the ongoing gift of a child who (somewhat) sleeps in. Around 8am, our buddy came down to start Christmas!

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Shortly after this, I put my camera down the rest of the day, to just enjoy and partake. With no real present-unwrapping since his birthday (almost) a year ago, it took a few gifts to understand the concept of opening, but as he gained momentum, the squeals and “oh my gosh!” chants became more intense and the paper-ripping skills improved 😉

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Today we’re enjoying a still-in-our-jammies day at home, running loads through the dishwasher, unboxing and building a couple of our gifts, and packing some of the decorations away. It’s calm and content, and kind of amazing to have such an entertained little guy while we play with our own new stuff!

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Wishing you safe travels home if you’re headed that way, peaceful and content last days in 2016, and an oh-so-happy new year. 

home for the holidays (part 3)

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Today I wanted to document the rest of our decor for the holiday season. I have some traditions and photos and little details of things I want to share and remember as well, but I’ll save that for another post. (I purposely didn’t call these “3 of 4” or anything, because I never know how overly ambitious — or lazy — I may end up getting, but I’m hoping to put together at least one more post this month!)

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One of the additions I made this year were these two potted pre-lits for the front patio. The pots they came in were a womp-womp flat antiquey gold, so I shined them up with some copper spray paint to coordinate with our exterior light fixtures and accent roof. I feel like it made a huge difference, and I’m always for more shine than less. I love the extra glow they bring to the front of the house at night.

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(Note to self — consider less noticeable white cords for next year!) But I digress. Please, come in! 🙂

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I’ve had several of what I call the “slinky” silver sequined trees from Target, for a few years now. I love how easy they are to store flat and pop open onto stands. I didn’t get them out last year, but love having most of them on the credenza in our entryway, along with a white IKEA star lamp I’m thinking needs to just stay out all year. It worked perfectly with the big gold star (last year, Target) hanging from fishing line in the ceiling.

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The flex room’s permanent plan is still a work in progress (goal for 2017 — focus on this room!), but for this season, it’s a play space and window light-filled spot to curl up with our Christmas reads.

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We sold the HUGE tree that took over this room last year, and scaled down a couple feet (both in height and diameter!) for something we could incorporate into our main living room.

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I was feeling more neutrals this year, so instead of picking a color scheme, it stayed to copper, silver, and white. I had to double-count when I realized we incorporated our tenth (!) Crate&Barrel frame ornament this year.

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This is only our second Christmas in this home, and I feel like I’m still getting a grip on not just how to decorate it for the holidays. Not everything from our previous house works here, and style and taste evolves, and of course new merchandise hits the market. I am really liking combining some more rustic/lodgey type of Christmas pieces with just as many shiny elements this year. I don’t like to lean too bling or too log cabin — the balance this year feels just right, and none of it is too precious that it can’t survive a toddler. (Case in point…those adorable melamine dishes just waiting for Santa’s cookies and milk!)

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I do love to set the table, and in years past, it’s been so fun to create a full-out holiday tablescape. But this year, who am I kidding, it gets in the way of our everyday meals, and frankly, takes up prime lego-building real estate.

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So I kept it simple (and edible, should you need a snack) with some faux pinecone garland, interspersed with some clementines for a little kitchen-flavored pop of color.

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In the kitchen, I stashed some pre-lit boxwood garland on timers above the cabinets. My favorite partridge in a pear tree plate and some simple berries in a vase sit on the counter. Of course, the lights on the garland hadn’t clicked on yet mid-day and I was too lazy to climb up there yet again, so one will just have to imagine. 🙂

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For the first year, we hired someone to hang our outdoor lights and we were thrilled with the result. Neither of us was about to climb up and reach those highest peaks, ourselves.

It’s pretty crazy that it’s mid-December and there still isn’t a decent covering of snow — I’ll have to capture this again when it looks more like the typical Iowa wintery scene.

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From our home to yours, Merry Christmas (and happy decorating!).

Crew: 23 months

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It’s your last month as a one-year-old and you haven’t slowed down a bit! Here’s what you’ve been up to the better part of November.

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You are definitely working on some molars, which has resulted in some extra-picky eating (nothing you have to chew too much) and lots of whiney, clingy meltdowns as you get more tired throughout the day. The ibuprofen is flowing here, for sure. Your earlier teeth never seemed to bother you much, or we’d notice for maybe a day, but this has been a solid week or so of you being uncomfortable. Poor guy!

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You won’t have an official weigh-in until your two-year appointment, but you recently climbed on our bathroom scale to the tune of about 26 pounds. You’re in size 7 shoes, 18-24 month bottoms and mostly 2T tops (short legs, long torso!). You are becoming more and more aware of, and vocal about, your – ahem – bodily functions. We are in no rush to potty train but after your birthday, we may give it a test-run. You willingly sit on the potty at school and are definitely interested. You also love to announce your burps and toots — even though they’re loud enough we usually hear them anyway. 😉

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You spent a day with Papa and Mimi at their house so we could go to what became THE Iowa game of the season. It was the first time someone else had put you to bed somewhere other than home, and I honestly wasn’t sure how it would go (more out of stress for them, not you!) but now that we know you can totally handle it, we’re dreaming of destinations for a trip away just us…no offense. 😉 It’s so interesting to see how something that made you nervous even a couple months ago (going to sleep somewhere out of the norm, even with us there) can be a totally different experience with just a few more weeks of growth.

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You’re obsessed with the moon. You have one in your room on the wall that you love to click on and off, but it’s no substitute for the real deal, which thanks to Daylight Savings, we can now spot at the end of the day when I pick you up from school, and every night before bed. We read Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me at LEAST once a day. You’ve stopped calling it a “moon ball” and out of nowhere started saying “full moon”. Not sure if this came from the book or talking about it at school?

You love, love, love to be a helper. Taking things to the trash, helping me cook, carrying laundry to the hamper — you are down for any task. At what age do kids suddenly view things as chores? Because I’m really liking this enthusiastic help, most of the time. 🙂 You’re also an epic backseat driver…“Mama — big truck comin’…oh! red light! ope! green light — go!” You particularly loved getting to help when Dad brought home a first Lego project for the two of you to build…and I’m so impressed with how carefully you’ve played with the finished product…for half-hour blocks at a time! #dadwin


It hasn’t FELT like the holidays are approaching (it’s been so warm!) but that hasn’t stopped us from talking about snow and Christmas trees and Santa. We got out the Christmas books from last year and it’s been fun to have some fresh content to read! Your vocab is expanding all the time, and it’s been fun to add some seasonal words and meaning. It’s amazing to me how little minds can hear a word or phrase just once or twice and it sticks. Just the other day, your frustrated mom said “Come ON!” in the car to the traffic, and when we got home, you proceeded to recite my phrase over and over…for Dad. Cue the start of me watching what I say around you. 🙂


You are getting your manners straight, using “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me” in the right situations, when prompted, and sometimes without. You also say “uh oh, sorry” more to yourself than anyone when you drop something. Your sentences are getting longer all the time — I can think of several things you have said that are at least 4-5 words strung together (and that make sense!). The other night when we were talking about a babysitter coming over, you said in sequence, “Rachael comin? Mama go bye bye? No mom bye bye.” Your train of thought is getting easier to follow all the time.

And so we begin the Christmas season with you. I have lists of things big and small I want to do with you at this magical innocent age that seems to be just a blip on the radar before it’s gone. I’m glad we decorated early because it leaves the whole month to just relax and soak up the experiences with you. Soooo looking forward to this!


home for the holidays (part 2)

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I started holiday decorating this year in our loft playspace. I replaced the “kid tree” from last year (the old one was cheap, not pre-lit, and we hobbled it along in a corner last year since it was missing one leg of its stand). I opted for the flocked look on this one, and as messy as it is to set up initially, I LOVE the snowy look.

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This tree is all ornaments that can’t be shattered or otherwise broken, so it’s stress-free. (The majority of the ornaments you see are this year and last year’s Target collection or Land of Nod.) Crew does like to take off the same couple ornaments and re-hang them from time to time…and the OCD in me just waits until he’s in bed to place them all back in their “right” spots. #yesimthatmom #funkiller

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I love this play space decorated for the holidays. It’s so colorful and whimsical and quirky — I mean come on, an octopus and a mouse king from the Nutcracker, and a donut, all living in tree harmony? LOVE IT.

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A little spruce tree on his coloring table and a stash of gifts complete the decor. Because gifts can’t be trusted under the tree yet (someone is getting the concept of “open!”) I’ve been displaying them on top of the bookcase as they get wrapped, along with a snowglobe that was mine, a little countdown tree, and a nutcracker of Page’s.

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After years of decorating in “adult Christmas” mode, it’s so fun to play with the childhood side of things and I can’t help but feel the child-like magic of Christmas when I climb to the top of the stairs each day.

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home for the holidays (Part 1)


With an almost two-year-old in the house, the magic of Christmas started early in our house this year. It’s been so fun to see Crew react to the twinkling lights, exclaim “Kiss-mus tee!”, and point out Santa wherever he spots him. He calls all references to snow “snow man”, so he has some differentiating to figure out….it’s Iowa, so he’ll get plenty of chances this year ha! At any rate, with an enthusiastic audience, it’s been fun to start the decking a little earlier, so we can enjoy the holiday season for as long as possible.


I’m hoping to photograph and post our home this coming weekend — but the season always kicks off for me officially with Christmas cards.


Cards are, hands-down, my favorite tradition of the season. Facebook posts just aren’t any substitute for seeing what people are up to, and I love old fashioned mail that no one sends anymore. I love displaying the cards we receive around our house, and always pack them up at the end of the holidays with the decorations, to flip through them one more time when we unpack it all the following year. As in past years, I designed my own (I’ll post it once it hits mailboxes!) but saved myself a ton of time (and not so great handwriting) by ordering customized pre-addressed envelopes from Tiny Prints’ holiday card collection. I keep an excel file anyway of everyone’s addresses…it was a HUGE time saver to just upload my list and have envelopes WAY cuter than anything I could address, arrive at my doorstep, ready to stuff!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?? Now that I’ve checked mine off my list, it’s on to more decking of the halls! 🙂